Surprising Finds #4 ~ The New River

I can’t honestly remember what prompted me to look into this subject further, but I have had great fun recently learning about what is called the New River.

New River collage

Strangely, it is neither a river, nor is it new; it is in fact a man-made construction which has supplied London with fresh drinking water for nigh on 400 years.

When Queen Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603) was on the throne, London’s population reached about 180,000. Although watered by the Thames, the city had, since medieval times, been troubled by the amount of pollution which was ending up in the river and the consequent health problems. In 1388, the first statute relating to public health in England was passed by Parliament:

……. So much dung and filth of the garbage and entrails as well as of beasts killed, as of other corruptions, be cast and put in ditches, rivers and other waters…… that the air there is greatly corrupt and infest and many maladies and other intolerable diseases do daily happen…..

Various plans were made to provide the city with clean water, but it wasn’t until 1606 that a Parliamentary Act granted the Corporation of London the power to make a “New River for bringing water to London from Chadwell and Amwell in Hertfordshire”.

Although the distance from Hertford to Islington (in North London) is only 24 miles, the actual course of the New River was nearly 40 miles when it was built. Over its course, there was a gentle gradient to promote the flow of water – which averaged 5.5 inches (8cm/km) per mile. The impressive feat of engineering was completed in 1613 when a formal ceremony took place at the Round Pond in Islington; this is sited near the present New River Head, just below Sadler’s Wells Theatre.This was the original termination point but it currently ends somewhere in Stoke Newington.

The New River remains an essential part of London’s water supply, carrying up to 220 megalitres (48 million gallons) daily for treatment; this represents some 8 per cent of London’s daily water consumption.

Importantly, it comes with a path and I intend to walk the length of it this coming autumn/winter. Hopefully with Mr Bee to keep me company.

Since 1992, Thames Water has worked with local people and partners to create a 45 km [28 mile] long-distance footpath that follows the course of the New River, linking the inner city to the open countryside. The route follows, wherever possible, the historic water channel, as well as some straightened and piped sections between the New River`s starting point near Hertford to its original end in Islington. The route is waymarked throughout its length and all signs display the Path logo ~ Thames Water

There is a good book called “Exploring the New River” by Michael Essex-Lopresti ( buy the book from Amazon ) and also a very helpful leaflet issued by Thames Water which has detailed maps and suggested walks (Thames Water leaflet ). Wikipedia has an entry on it too: wiki info.

Funnily enough we used to live in Highbury and spent many an afternoon walking a very small section of the walk in Canonbury, making sure the baby Bees didn’t fall in! At that time I had no idea this artificial waterway existed. Now I live in Hertfordshire, so there is no excuse not to have a go at walking its length. I have no doubt there are some very pretty pubs along the way which will make the task that bit easier.

New River Walk Canonbury

I will let you know how I get on.

Annie Bee x

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Mall Walking ~ Cheaper Than The Gym

Mr Bee and I are currently watching “Better Call Saul” on Netflix, and in a recent episode, Saul mentioned mall walkers, complaining that they are hard to chase (he is selling them his will-making services) as they are all walking so damned fast.

In the UK, this is a relatively little-known phenomenon; there are pockets of it (hello Bluewater, Kent), but in the US and in Australia it seems a much bigger deal. And what an amazing idea it is.

Mall walking

I believe it all started in America when the first fully enclosed U.S. mall, the Stockdale, opened in Minnesota in 1956 and local doctors suggested patients recovering from heart attacks should exercise there, away from the snow and ice of Minnesota’s harsh winters. The 1980s saw a boom in the construction of malls and by 2001, some 2.5 million people were walking in 1,800 malls in the United States.

“You always have a bathroom, and most malls have security. Even if you have a heart issue, they have defibrillators.”

So if you live near one, what are the benefits? They are under-cover so weather proof. My Mum used to mall walk in Brisbane Australia, mainly because during their summers, it is way too hot to exercise outside if you are elderly, so an early morning brisk hour of walking in the air-conditioned mall was the perfect solution. If the mall allows, you can get the walk done before the shoppers arrive, but then grab a coffee or breakfast with your fellow exercisers. Water fountains are often available, as is seating if you over-do it. From my Mum’s point of view, it was sociable as well as being a good form of exercise. You go at your own pace and there is certainly plenty to look at. The mall owners/managers can benefit from this extra business at an otherwise very slow time of day, and the canny shop owners can work it to their benefit (Senior Citizen specials on offer).

Some years ago I emailed the British Heart Foundation asking whether they had thought of launching a programme of Mall Walking in the UK, but I never heard back. Maybe it is time for the UK to start to promote it. I think a couple of the bigger UK malls do it (the Bullring in Birmingham, The Trafford Centre in Manchester and the White Rose in Leeds as well as Bluewater); the NHS mention it on their website under ‘Get Fit For Free’ which is good, but maybe if the BHF got behind it, it could help us all.

At present I am happiest walking and running outside, but I can imagine in my dotage, I would love to join this merry band of mall walkers. And I will walk super fast if I am being pursued by anyone flogging me their will-writing services.

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Annie Bee x

Fartlekking: Say What?*!?

In a previous post I was saying how good walking is for you. No disputing that. Research backs it up, as does common sense.

However, this past week, in order to wake my metabolism up (to be honest I am not sure whether that is even a thing, but it sounds like it should be) I have been fartlekking. The main reason is I like the word, but it also gets the heart-rate up and is generally good for your fitness levels.

So what is it? Like a lot of good things, it is Swedish (as is the zipper, tetrapak, the artificial pacemaker, the smorgasbord and – wait for it – the adjustable wrench). Essentially it can be described as follows:

….. periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. For some people, this could be a mix of jogging and sprinting, but for beginners it could be walking with jogging sections added in when possible.

For me, it is the latter. I count my paces and do 100 fast walking followed by 100 s-l-o-w jogging. I do about 4 miles. I try at all stages not to look like I might need resuscitating.

When in doubt about benefits or otherwise of health matters, I tend to turn to the NHS website. This is what they say about fartlekking.

What is interval training?

An interval training workout involves alternating periods of high-intensity effort with periods of low-intensity effort, which is called the recovery. For runners, this would typically involve interspersing bouts of fast running with slower running.

What happens to your body during the recovery phase?

The recovery phase is a really important part of interval training. The stop-and-start pattern trains your body to recover quickly between bursts of faster running, which, over time, will gradually increase your ability to run faster for longer.

What are the health benefits of interval training?

The long-term health benefits from interval training are similar to those achieved from most types of longer-duration, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, namely a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

Can interval training help me lose weight?

During the high-intensity phase, your body burns mainly carbs for energy but during the recovery, your body burns mainly fat to produce the energy needed to help your body recover from the intense effort. This process can continue for hours after training, which can help you lose weight, as long as you’re also eating  healthily.

What research is there on interval training?

There is growing evidence to support that interval training might be as effective, if not more so, than longer, moderate-intensity aerobic workouts. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that three 20-minute sessions of interval training a week provided the same benefits as 10 hours of steady exercise over a two-week period.

knackered runner

Well in that case, I will stick with it.

Annie Bee x

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My previous post on walking is here: http://wp.me/p5MNeq-1P

It’s Prestigious To Be Busy + Walking

I was listening to Ruby Wax being interviewed on Radio 4 last weekend  – an exhausting woman  (I was driving at the time and almost had to pull over and have a little rest)  – and she said, “It is prestigious to be busy these days” and she did not mean it kindly. So true. If you are not standing up (Sitting Down Is The New Smoking) you risk becoming a social pariah. I hear there are people lap-topping away on a treadmill as I write (attached to a string around their neck, like glasses perhaps?).

What’s it all about?

As I mentioned in a previous post about Calories In, Calories Out, you will know (we all know) that activity is very important to helping and maintaining weight-loss, and combining exercise into your life is the best way of doing this. Every magazine/newspaper  I read tackles the subject ceaselessly  and it is a very big business (in the UK alone the diet business is thought to be worth £2bn). You might be sick to death of hearing about it, but the great news for all of us, but particularly for women over 50, is that walking is fine.This information is from The Guardian :

“Brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running when the energy expenditure of both activities is balanced out, a study has found.

Researchers compared data from two studies of 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers. For the same amount of energy used, walkers experienced greater health benefits than runners.

The effects on participants, who were aged 18 to 80, were observed over a period of six years.

Running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5% while walking reduced it by 9.3%.

Calorie for calorie, walking also had a stronger impact on heart disease risk factors. The risk of first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.2% by running and 7.2% by walking.

First-time high cholesterol risk was lowered by 4.3% by running and 7% by walking.

The risk of first-time diabetes was reduced by about 12% by both walking and running.

“Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,” said study leader Dr Paul Williams, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

“The more the runners ran, and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable.

“People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health.”

The research is reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology”. 

This is fabulous news for people like me for whom The “R” Word (as my beautiful friend Christine used to call it) does not tend to fit into their daily list of exercise. But we can all have a brisk walk and indeed very recent research from the University of Cambridge suggests that just 20 minutes a day has a big impact http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/14/scientists-recommend-20-minute-daily-walk-premature-death

Hooray! Cancel my order for that treadmill for the study; no need to pretend that I can see a computer screen while on the move. And have a good look at Ms Beckham’s shoes below. Someone needs to have a word. It will end in tears.

treadmill work 2    treadmill pic

And finally, I can highly recommend the Nike+Running App (ignore The “R” Word) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/nike-gps/id387771637?mt=8.  I use it mainly to check how far I have gone and it keeps a record of the walks which I find very motivating.
Happy walking!

green bee for signature copy

Annie Bee x

https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/exercise-work/